Seventh-placed Wolves have a chance to solidify their position in a potential European qualifying spot as they play host to Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle side. The visiting Magpies, for their part, sit above the relegation spots on goal difference alone, and knowing that the last time these sides met, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side prevailed after an injury-time winner.
January was an intriguing month for Newcastle. They spent actual money on a footballer, and beat Manchester City 2-1 in the Premier League. However, neither of those developments will mean much if they can’t win games on a more regular basis. The trouble is, while beating City was hugely impressive, the Magpies have struggled to beat teams around them in this division, and that could cost them Premier League status.
Wolves vs Newcastle Prediction: Wolves 2-0 Newcastle
Santo’s side has discovered its scoring tough at just the right moment in the season, with ten goals in their last three league games being enough to give them their longest winning streak of this season. If they can pull out another win here – and they are favourites to do so – then they’ll take a firm hold on seventh place. With the hosts’ solid defence, and the visitors’ struggles to find the net this season, it’s easy to see Wolves keeping a clean sheet here – although they might not achieve the same attacking fireworks.
Our recommended tip: BTTS – No
Newcastle have plenty of reason to feel that they can rise well clear of the relegation spots by the closing weeks of the season – unlike many of the clubs in that area, they have pushed most of the elite to a point where late goals were needed to beat them. However, what they lack is the ability to take control of a game and lead from first to last. Against a side as well-organised and unified as Wolves, this could well be a problem. We’d expect Wolves to create chances, and take a few, as they have against most lower-half opposition. With Unibet offering ¾ for “No” on the Both Teams To Score market, we think there is plenty of value for the bettor.
The most recent meeting between these sides came just over two months ago at St James’ Park, and the sides exchanged goals in the first 23 minutes. For much of the match, it looked as though they would share the points but, controversially, Newcastle were reduced to ten men when DeAndre Yedlin was sent off 58 minutes in. While the 90 minutes elapsed without Wolves having taken advantage, they kept plugging and, four minutes into time added on, defender Matt Doherty nodded in a rebound from a Jota shot to give the visitors all three points.
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Players to watch: Raul Jimenez & Miguel Almiron
From the early weeks of the season, Jimenez has been earning positive reviews from pundits for his ability to play a lone striker role, bringing teammates into the game and having an influence without being much of a scorer himself. In recent weeks, he has however started to find the net on a regular basis, and now leads the side with nine goals. The Mexican has scored four of those since the turn of the year, grabbing two in a vital 3-0 win over West Ham.
Almiron, at this point, is as important to Newcastle for what he represents as for anything he’s actually done. Still awaiting his Magpies debut, the Paraguayan is a player for whom the club has broken their transfer fee record; in his time in the MLS he showed the ability to get on the ball and create chances. That’s something that Newcastle have previously sorely lacked, and if Almiron can score and create a few goals between now and the end of the season, it could make all the difference to which league they’re playing in a year from now.